Trend and Issue Spotting 2012 – Automotive Channel

Things, developments, movements, and actions are occurring so fast and furious that there seems to be a need to somehow chronicle and monitor what maybe an emerging issue or a definitive trend. Once identified, you will then almost immediately seek to figure if and how you should respond to what seems be a disruptive trend or an annoying unresolved issue that may well come back to bite your enterprise in its collective butt.
So here are three “trends” and three “issues” for you ingestion and cognition:
1.  Issue: Consumer Privacy:
The Prompt: Google is in ka-ka over data collection of private info from people’s computers while going down your street to film their house or business; (Wall Street Journal)
Suggestions: That other kinds of data has been collected by major sites and that, at some point, this practice will be “exposed,” adding to talk about privacy backlash among car buying consumers and a cracked down by the Federal government
2. Trend: Sharing Sites as Marketing Platform
The Prompt: Pin-Trest is apparently “spreading” to contend as an online buying channel to reach consumers—70 percent are women; (LA Times Article, Friday, April 13th)
Suggestions: Pin-Trest could be useful as digital catalog; Over 20 percent of users acknowledging using it to buy things; Google, Apple, or Microsoft will buy the company for $500 M.
3. Issue: Shale Fracking Causing More Earthquakes
Prompt: Claims that fracking is causing earthquakes in the midwest; shale boom declining; natural gas prices 90 percent below 2005 level; fewer rigs being deployed; water pollution concerns and 134 earthquakes causing relook by industry and the Feds. (Financial Times. April 12; Bloomberg TV)
Suggestions: CNG and natural gas as a major solution to U.S. energy prices may not come about so easily; Boom employment and population growth in some communities may slow; the management and process of fracking is under scrutiny by EPA, the Feds, and state authorities; Causing a re-examine of the industry’s practices by NG proponents, investors, and developers.
4. Trend: Brake Overrides Systems Becoming Standard Equipment
Prompted by: Reports of more intended acceleration incidents and the aftermath of the Toyota-Lexus problem of over a year ago: NHTSA and safety experts believe that brake override systems will virtually eliminate such incidents of stuck throttles. (LA Times, April 13)
Suggestions: The Toyota issue with the so called “stuck accelerator” dilemma may now be settled and left to all manufacturers who had or have instituted renewed safety equipment and practices. Other than the awful Lexus crash that killed 3 people—much of the Toyota flap was driver error.
5. Issue: Lithium Ion Battery Explosions
The Prompt: GM Lab worker sent to hospital when another A123 Systems battery exploded when chemical gases released by the battery ignited in a closed chamber.
Suggestions: A123 Systems may not be a source for lithium battery by OEMs; NHTSA and GM have determined that vehicle powered by Lithium Ion batteries are no more dangerous than traditional gas powered vehicles; GM claims that this explosion will not impact rising sales of Volt cars.
6. Trend: Paperless Board and Dealer Sales Meetings
The Prompt: iPads and e-readers are eliminating the use of paper documents and reports at company meetings including boards of directors. Users of iPad and other technology claim that meeting participants are better informed, prepared, and are able to respond immediately to information and data sent their way. (Financial Times, April 10th , Business Life Section)
Suggestions: Boards of Directors of major companies are beginning to access iPad documents and files during meetings; dealership sales managers will be sending and receiving reports to their sales teams even as sales teams are engaged with customers on the showroom floor. OEM managers input meeting info and actions on the spot then email actions and instructions all over the place.

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